Heritage economies and “sustainable” development as “a way out of the Greek Crisis”
17 January 2018, Eleusina – Greece
During the Greek economic crisis, media circulate many stereotypes that depict Greeks as lazy and refusing to work hard as other Europeans. However, the Greek Ministry of Culture (MoC) considers Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as a tool to provide a solution to the economic crisis and the negative image of Greece. Based on this, the MoC has created a strategy focusing on the promotion of agro-food products and techniques as well as other traditional crafting techniques by inscribing them on an ICH list (national or international). The aim is that the inscriptions will become leverage for other public mechanisms (such as Erasmus+ funding) that will create new jobs for the communities. Moreover, the inscriptions will enhance the visibility of the communities that practice these ICH elements in order to attract more tourism, and strengthen the commerce and local economy. Furthermore, this also will highlight “the hard work of Greeks” and fight the stereotypes. However, using ICH for to enhance the local economy is a grey zone for UNESCO and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH that is the main framework of MoC regarding ICH. This grey zone creates a space of creative frictions by allowing to the actors many interpretations of the Convention relating to the commercialisation of ICH. Thus, the current economic crisis becomes the motivation for individuals to highlight that Intangible Cultural Heritage can provide ways to overcomes difficulties by designing heritage-centred plans based ideas of (sustainable) development.